Next week I’m speaking at the SocialMedia.org Brand Summit in Orlando about social measurement. It’s a passion I have acquired over the last year and something I believe many companies today get very wrong. This past Monday I was speaking to a few leaders at another company and it’s very clear this is a pain point we are all experiencing today, myself included. When social first emerged there was no standard measurement structure to follow. Depending who was involved in the use of social networks, they all had a different spin or background that influenced some of the measurements today.
Reach, impressions, share of voice, sentiment, etc. have their roots in PR measurements and television / print media. While making up measurements in this new emerging space was adequate at the time, today business leaders are asking different questions and want the business value of all business activities. Social networks are no longer immune or given a free pass because they are “soft metrics” or “hard to measure” – and they never should have been offered that free pass. I’ve said for years that the activities and efforts you spend in your business have a real value and it’s imperative that we all measure our programs in a way to show our impact to our larger organizations.
Unfortunately it’s far more difficult to connect the dots than eCommerce or Web engagements for a business. It requires careful planning, information, data and deep knowledge of the business and business objectives. There is no shortcut to this kind of work and it’s the next emerging field in our industry. What works for one business, is not helpful for another. Finding the value of social programs is just as complicated as measuring the value of a marriage, a friendship or even colleagues at work. There are a lot of different approaches and angles to consider so it requires careful thought, planning, tools and analysis that fits with the individual culture of each business.
Next week I will be sharing a 7-step process I have used when looking at determining the value of social programs and explain the components that go into those decisions. The class is limited to 20 minutes so the best way to provide a framework for the audience to take away something useful was to share the process, not the results. I will go into some details about the results, common misconceptions, mistakes and opportunities as well. I’m hopeful it provides some interesting thought-starters and insights for peers to take back to their respective companies to share. I will share more of the presentation here next Friday as well.
Today it’s more important than ever that we hold each other to a higher standard and share this knowledge. In order for our programs to grow and thrive, we have to show the value to our business results. Allowing agencies, third party vendors or internal teams to continue to deliver reporting that does not show the value to the organization undermines all our work and threatens to do more harm to our industry. It’s time to get back to business. Together, we will only move what we measure – and we need to do a better job of measuring what really matters.
“She is between the ages of 24 and 55, has 2.5 children and has a household income over 75k per year”
Sound familiar? Persona development has been a cornerstone of marketing and advertising for many years. Even the show Mad Men embraces the practice highlighting the “he” and “she” pronouns as they describe the customer.
Are personas bad? Not necessarily. They focus teams on a direction from which their creative ideas can flow. They help mold the voice and tone of campaigns as well as identify targeted opportunities to ensure your brand or campaign is directly in front of the customer. However, I believe the customer persona focus for brands will eventually come to an end.
1) The Culture of Exclusion
Years ago when I ran a listening program for a product team I surfaced information regarding an abnormal use of the product. It gained traction particularly in one specific demographic . When I presented the information to the brand team they were already aware of the information. However, they refused to engage or do anything with the information because “that’s not who our customer is.”
All evidence pointed to the contrary. The product being used was our product, just not used in the way our marketing teams intended or by the customer they were targeting. This was new, fertile opportunity. Years later, after competition entered the new market and new channels were embracing the new uses, the product team was scrambling to embrace a secondary customer persona.
While persona development is a fantastic way to develop a focus on the customer, it can also lead to denial and exclusion when major opportunities appear. When a persona causes a brand to put on blinders to all other opportunities in the world, it ceases to provide a useful purpose or advantage for a brand.
2) Moving What Matters
The culture of exclusion is not just a potential byproduct of a narrow persona focus. The very nature of persona development means that certain customers will not be in focus. While usually a smaller percentage of sales, these customers are excluded from the ad units, the creative development, the contests, sweepstakes and the brand conversation. This is an upside down view of marketing that will kill brands in the future.
At the end of the day, brands want to provide more products and services to more people. They want to target every potential customer, not just one that fits a certain persona. Technology is allowing us to achieve this dream. Now we can understand the customer in ways unlike any day in our history. Tools such as eCairn allow us to target the catalysts to conversations, not just the influencers. The opportunity to embrace changes in taste, mood, purchase intent and emotional connections will only become richer for brands in the future. We no longer will have to exclude any customer, we can serve up something for everyone. Brands can focus on 1000 personas instead of just a handful. A marketing offering for the Every Customer.
3) The Speed of Change
While technology is rapidly developing to meet the needs of the Every Customer, it’s not the silver bullet. Companies and brands will have to adopt a new mindset. Listening to the customer is not enough. Understanding the customer is required to fully embrace this shift away from the customer persona. Brands will have to understand how to truly understand the needs of the Every Customer and have a portfolio to offer them upon request. It should be Burger King. Everyone should get it their way.
As the needs of the customer change, brands must adapt and have the courage to meet the Every Customer where they are. ”Change is the only constant” should be the only pillar brand teams understand. While some products and services may continue to have large customer personas that continues to resonate with some customers, it’s not an either/or proposition. Embracing the Every Customer in the future will keep brands both beloved and relevant.
You might be asking yourself, “Year-end review? It’s only November!”
True, but it has been my experience that the period just before Thanksgiving through January 1 is like a slide on a playground. Every slide has that point where acceleration occurs just before you slide right off to the ground. That is where we are today and if you blink, you’ll miss it.
When I look at goals I have established, I take a 1, 3, 5, 10 year approach. Where do I want to be next year? In 3 years? etc. If at any point along the way I feel I’m too far off track I can easily pivot to right the course and maintain my heading. I’m obsessed with measurement (obviously) and it has helped me stay on track throughout the year.
When I started 2013, I had a few personal goals established regarding my blog and professional engagements. I did a blog reset in January on Tumblr. It really took off about 4 months after it was created and the traffic has been fairly steady since that time. 400 posts later and it’s a great stream of social and things I find interesting or funny in our industry, and I hope you do too. In May, I added this blog to more clearly lay out my thoughts on the intersection of data and technology. This was not part of the plan this year, but definitely aligned with future goals. In September I started the “What’s Next” video series on my YouTube channel. I was fortunate to attend some great events this year and have the opportunity to capture some of the best leaders in our industry on film. I hope to maintain the weekly video cadence throughout 2014.
As I look back at the year, I have achieved my largest goal: dedicating more time to discovery and thought leadership. At the 3M ThinkTANK, Mason discussed how important it is to look back and remember how far you’ve come and where you have been. To me, examining the journey of the year with my personal goals is part of my personal growth process. I can not ask of others what I am not willing to do myself. I’m pleased that this is a focus for my team in 2014 as well. It’s very easy for teams to get lost in the craziness of the “now” and forget about the journey. Change is sometimes slow – glacial even, and never as fast as we desire. But it’s change. It’s a part of the transformation we are leading our companies through. This is the time of the year we should all reflect on what we have accomplished as we prepare to launch into the next chapter of new and exciting things in store for 2014.
Whether we want to admit it or not, e-mail still plays a large role in our digital life today. I don’t know about you, but I can measure those daily in the hundreds. About a year ago I had to develop a system of managing e-mail to free myself from the overwhelming job or responding to every message. This recent article from Claire Diaz-Ortiz has a similar approach: Don’t respond.
Efficiency experts will tell you that the most effective way to manage e-mail is to deal with a response as you read the e-mail. This prevents you from later re-reading the e-mail when you have more time to respond. Therefore, your best approach is to only read e-mail when you have time to respond.
However, that alone is not sufficient. When you receive hundreds of e-mails per day, and even when you only receive only a few, e-mail can be time consuming a job by itself. This is why the first question I ask myself after reading an e-mail is, “Do I need to respond?”
The No-Response List
Unsolicited messages from vendors I don’t know, for tools I don’t need and my favorite- for products or services for other departments that clearly do not involve me (e.g., category management, supply chain, etc.), do not get a response. Sadly, these sometimes come in the flavor of an unsolicited calendar invite and many, many phone calls. If I had the time, I would probably offer a courtesy reply but that is just not possible today.
Within my company there are three e-mail types I also do not respond to via e-mail but may respond via a meeting invite. The first are e-mails that have more than 1000 characters where someone is trying to frame a response, position or question about an issue. Invariably these may take 2000 characters to clarify and have the potential to be misunderstood. Therefore, the best option is to either set up a quick 5 minute call, meeting or do a drive-by their office.
Additionally, I’m not a fan of responding to e-mail where the world has been copied 3 levels above my Vice President about an issue. I know even my Vice President has no interest in this issue and it’s safe to say it often deserves to be handled between you and the sender. Much like social, sometimes it’s better to take things offline and manage them one-on-one through a meeting, quick phone call or hallway conversation. Avoid the reply-all syndrome as it only draws everyone into more e-mail and is a lose-lose proposition.
I also agree with Claire about negative e-mail. Anything that is unprofessional, highly negative or emotionally charged is not appropriate for a response and often is just sent in the moment. Fortunately, I don’t receive much of this variety but it falls squarely in the “no response” category.
For everything else a response is warranted but I try to improve my efficiency. Except for obligatory official communications, I try to keep my e-mail like a tweet and very short – the shorter the better. If a meeting or call is necessary, I try to roll it into a future meeting or time when I know I will see the same person or group. Some may argue setting a new meeting or a call is in and of itself, time consuming and yet another meeting on your calendar. However, in my experience meetings or calls avoid the back and forth of a long e-mail chain that is much faster and more likely to avoid confusion.
Even well-known people in our industry suffer the same dilemma. At the 3M ThinkTANK I picked up one of our speakers from the airport and they posed the same question to me: How do you respond to all your e-mail? I explained my approach and they agreed that there is just not enough time to respond to everyone. I know many of us may feel compelled to respond to everything that comes our way, but it’s just not possible today with limited resources and time. Freeing ourselves from the obligation and burden of a response for everyone and everything leaves times for the things that really matter like family, friends and other work commitments.
I first met Chad in true social fashion at a dinner event at SXSW. At one point in the dinner we all emptied our pockets of devices and took a picture of the collective insanity of what we carry to manage our digital brands:
His role at Scripps Networks is broad but necessary. Their media rich environment lends itself to social engagement in a lot of ways other brands may find more challenging. It’s no surprise to hear his thoughts on What’s Next in regards to digital engagement. Follow Chad on Twitter at @CParizman. Enjoy!
When I was in high school, I was in the band. My name is Greg, and yes, I’m a band geek. During my first year we had a band director that was not only beloved, but feared. His ability to yell and make you feel 2 inches tall in the parking lot was legendary. It probably did not help that in addition to yelling at full volume, he would also use a megaphone to amplify his thoughts.
During the course of my time with him that first year, he imparted two thoughts that have stuck with me to this day:
“If you’re on time, you’re late.”
“The true measure of excellence is how you act when nobody is watching.”
As a result I’m overly early usually for appointments.
The second thought, though, is something that has stuck with me even today in how I function in my role and within my company. I hold my team and those around me to high standards when it comes to our customers to ensure that above all else, we do the right thing. This article I read from Sam Ford yesterday really struck a chord on a few thoughts I have had recently regarding customer centricity and the approach many brands have taken with digital. Sam recounts his experience with a retailer where the product purchased did not live up to the full expectation. The sale was a once-and-done.
Last year, in the early morning hours before work, my Keurig coffee maker stopped working. This is the equivalent of the Zombie Apocalypse in my world. After work, I made a beeline to Bed Bath & Beyond to purchase a new one. As I was beginning the checkout process, I explained to the employee what happened with my previous coffee maker.
Employee: Did you purchase that one here as well?
Me: Actually, yes I did but I think it was over a year ago.
Employee: Let me see if it’s in our system. I would be happy to hold this one here behind the counter if you want to bring in the old one for an exchange.
About an hour later I exchanged the old one for a new one and even purchased a few extra coffee pods. I used to think Bed Bath & Beyond was the place you shop only when you have a 20% off coupon but now I’m a customer for life. It didn’t take the employee or the store much effort to make my product experience a positive one. They also had no expectation that I would write about it or tell others. But I have. I’ve told at least 5 people where to buy their next coffee maker.
Many brands are laser focused on the last touch and the sale – anything that can generate a lead or result in the shopping cart purchase. However, the customer experience and support are paramount in all channels with your customer relationships and over time determine whether a brand will rise or fall. The easy road would have been to allow me to buy a new coffee maker unit and say nothing. The true measure of excellence is how they treated me when nobody was watching.
By now, most people in our digital circles have heard of the Home Depot crisis of last week. Yes, it wasn’t a nightmare, it happened. While it’s clear this was not a great decision by whomever was managing the program, I think the stories that have resulted regarding the incident have missed a few points.
Any leader of large enterprise brands will tell you that we are all exposed. With thousands of employees, you simply can not be everywhere, all the time, 24/7 monitoring and controlling every message and employee event or conversation. It’s not possible. That’s one of the chief reasons I preach about being prepared for our future crisis – because it’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of when. While we do our best to lead, guide, train and monitor, crisis management is a reality for all brands to manage.
Regarding Home Depot, they are currently in the midst of transition so this incident came at a rather bad time. Even in the midst of this transition, they were able to respond swiftly. While I may not personally agree with the response or the attempt to respond to each and every tweet, you absolutely have to give them credit for swiftly responding and organizing a plan. Had they not done so, this story would still be front page news today. I think that’s a great lesson for other brands to take away regarding timing and organization.
Additionally, there are 2 other lessons for brands that have not been reported regarding this incident. First, listening programs are foundational and critical. Sure, you’ve heard this before but it’s not always about your brand – it’s sometimes about people you associate with in your business. During the evening hours while Home Depot was responding to criticism, Home Depot Canada was running a Twitter party and giving away gift cards. Most likely there was a disconnect between countries – but most importantly, a disconnect between the blogger and the teams. Martha Stewart sent out a tweet promoting her products at Home Depot as well. Not the best timing.
Other unintended consequences can result from an incident like this as well. What may have seemed innocent at one point in time, can suddenly seem offensive. For instance, one of the pages on their eCommerce site features monkey bars and a picture of a black girl using them on the playground. While I do not believe there was any malicious intent, the incident now changes the perception of this imagery with this product name.
These are the consequences of a crisis incident. It’s hard for organizations to fully appreciate every aspect of the business that can be affected, but often a crisis incident can reach further than just one channel, one website or one location. Consider all areas of your business and partners that can also be affected as it will help avoid lingering after-effects of a crisis incident.
Aaron and I met several years ago. He’s a marketing veteran who specializes in the convergence of mobile, social and digital marketing. Not only does he appreciate great BBQ, but he understands the practical applications that digital will bring to our world. He gets it – and that’s what I appreciate about him. You can follow him on Twitter @AaronStrout. Enjoy!
Last night there was intense discussion in some of the brand social back channels about Facebook and the organic reach brands have been noticing lately. It’s on the decline. The finger pointing has been active for awhile but some recent information from a Facebook representative confirmed that the field is becoming crowded. There is only so much real estate in a news feed for targeting. Consumer brands especially are fighting for eyeballs because Facebook is choreographing the news feed to avoid a steady stream of brand posts – which in my opinion, is necessary. If Facebook did not throttle page posts, the user experience would suffer and the entire network would collapse.
The good news / bad news is that Facebook has a solution. Advertise. Sponsored posts are pushed higher in the ranking than organic posts for the news feed. The challenge for brands, however, is to maximize their reach and optimize their spend. Chasing likes, clicks, shares and comments worked for awhile for many brands, but that time is coming to an end. Organic reach is much more complicated than just people hitting “Like.” It requires a build-up of a strong community with quality content and value to promote your page as a destination, not a quick contest and sweepstakes that degrades your page over time.
Part of the organic reach problem right now is based very simply on the proliferation of social in the enterprise. More companies are getting on board and starting to progress in maturity. We’re still in the early days of social but it’s nice to see progress. As companies learn how to maximize their engagements to increase organic reach, the field will still remain crowded and competition will just become more intense. Without additional spend, some brands may not find value in Facebook.
I believe for most brands Facebook will maintain a strong value, but my concern is the increasing need for advertising spend. My concerns are founded mainly in the limited real estate opportunity for Facebook right now. While I believe they will continue to try to expand the options especially with location-based technologies and mobile, I could see Facebook looking to find new ways to up the spend on our current offerings. Potential new options may include more ability to directly influence and affect the reach of competitors. This simultaneously ups the spend to aggressively “win” in the news feed against a competitor and to reinforce your current reach. For some industries this is a losing proposition for all involved (just look at the evolution of paid search).
Regardless of what options come from Facebook in the future, brands should still focus on measurement and understanding the value of their communities. Savvy brands will know which advertising targets reach the same audience with a better value proposition. They will not only know the best way to connect to their customer, but who their customers are across all social networks and digital platforms. Those brands who are still trying to calculate the ROI of social will fall behind and struggle for years to catch up as mature brands optimize and spread their efforts more efficiently across the digital ecosystem.
I was cleaning out a bookshelf this weekend and the following sections jumped out at me when I was flipping through this book. Read the following paragraphs and try to fill in the blank:
________ initiatives significantly impact jobs, roles, skills, and the daily routine of an organization, and are often disruptive and initially unpopular among the rank and file. The people aspects of large initiatives are often the most challenging part with politics and organizational conflicts being the norm in ________ initiatives.
Another common _______ problem relates to the structure of most modern corporations. For example, most businesses are structured to have a corporate head office and subordinate business units — each of which has a degree of autonomy. The problem is that many firms try to dictate _______ initiatives to business units, despite the fact that each typically has its own unique competitive strategy.
If a company successfully generates excitement for a _______ initiative, this can create another problem –inflated expectations. There are countless cases where the team has brought the initiative in on time only to find user or executives expectations were very different. Executives wonder why they spent the money and business users fail to see the benefit of adopting the changes.
_______ is an ongoing process not an event. It must be carefully managed over time, even after a successful rollout. Even if excellent user adoption is first achieved, success will fade if _________ is not nurtured.
Have you identified the missing words or phrases? Perhaps you used social business? Social media? Or maybe digital? Integrated marketing? Data? Customer insights?
Actually, the book I pulled these paragraphs from is titled, CRM Unplugged: Releasing CRM’s Strategic Value by Philip Bligh and Douglas Turk and the missing word from each blank is CRM. Surprised?
This book was written ten years ago and in many instances it highlights the ongoing struggles many companies experience today in the adoption of digital engagement initiatives across the enterprise. Additionally, the key points outlined later in this book reveal a lot about CRM challenges:
-The departments of most firms do not coordinate well enough to produce seamless customer experience and interactions.
-The lack of coordination makes delivering tailored experience for customers more difficult or impossible.
-Companies should produce a customer strategy designed to marshal customer activity and differentiated treatments across the firm
Sound familiar? CRM implementations required the convergence of technology and customer-facing organizations – two groups that traditionally have difficulty communicating their needs with each other. Today many companies are experiencing similar challenges on a different scale. Web, media, social, mobile, search, etc. are evolving quickly. Adoption across the enterprise of these new digital engagement channels with more traditional organizations is slow and requires careful change management. However, this is change we have seen before in the enterprise. It just takes time.